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The New Zealand Deerstalkers Association (NZDA) is demanding answers over the scheduling of some West Coast 1080 drops, saying fawns could starve if the poison drops go ahead.
The NZDA, the country's leading hunting organisation, said yesterday it had become aware of several applications from Ospri and the Department of Conservation to use aerial 1080 in the run-up to Christmas.
A 1080 drop is scheduled to begin today in the Kahurangi area, and it was understood another operation is due to begin soon in the Landsborough valley in South Westland.
The NZDA is condemning the planned poisoning.
NZDA national president Trevor Chappell said the timing was unacceptable.
"These drops coincide with late spring when deer are giving birth to their fawns and that means not only are the mothers at risk of dying a painful death if they eat the 1080, the orphaned fawns will be left to starve to death," he said.
"This is just not on. This is a major animal welfare issue for deer and if these government organisations want to be seen as humane, they should not be conducting mass poisoning campaigns at this time of year."
In previous years, mass poisoning operations had finished by this time, he said.
The tahr cull was halted from November to prevent orphaned kids starving to death in the mountains.
Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage told RNZ there was a crisis for native species due to the mega mast this year.
The alternatives to fawns dying was birds being killed, she said.
It was spending $250,000 on deer repellent in the Cobb Valley and Kahurangi.
When asked if the drops could wait, she pointed out the huge number of rats which washed up on Westport beach.
They had to use fine weather windows, she said.
Game Animal Council chairman Don Hammond said it supported efforts to protect native birds.
"We are not promoting 1080 but understand the need."
It was working with Doc regarding deer repellent.
- Greymouth Star